All raw eggplants stay fresh in the fridge for many days, whether you have a dark purple American globe eggplant, a pale green Chinese variety, a green-and-white striped Thai type or white varieties like Cloud Nine or Casper. The exact amount of time your veggie will last depends on its size, its freshness when you brought it home and the way you store it in your fridge.
All eggplants contain lots of healthy fiber, have no sodium or fat and are low in calories, but give some thought on how to cook the vegetable to retain its healthful qualities.
The Freshest Eggplant
The fresher the eggplant is when you buy it, the longer it will last in the fridge and the better it will taste. Choose one that feels heavy in your hand, with smooth, glossy skin and no cracks or discolored spots. The eggplant may give a bit when you press it with your thumb, but a fresh one will spring back quickly. Look for a bright green stem and cap.
Storing to Maintain Freshness
Wrap the eggplant, unwashed and in plastic, to reduce its exposure to air, and store it in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator where the temperature is somewhat warmer than the 40 degrees Fahrenheit temperature of the rest of the fridge. Temps that are too warm or too cold can damage the eggplant. Being squeezed by the drawer itself or by other vegetables can bruise the eggplant's skin and cause it to age faster than normal or allow bacteria to develop. Properly stored, a whole eggplant lasts from three to seven days.
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Cooking With Eggplant
Eggplant remains a healthy vegetable when you limit the amount of fat used in cooking. To keep it healthy, roast it in a hot oven or cook it in a hot skillet tossed with a little olive oil. Or, steam cubes of eggplant and blend it with peppers, onions and walnuts to make a savory dip. Exercise caution, however, when frying eggplant in lots of oil, as it absorbs fat more easily than other vegetables. And make cheesy, fried eggplant parmesan only on rare occasions.
If you can't use an entire eggplant within its seven-day fresh period, tuck it in the freezer to cook later. Stored carefully, the eggplant will retain its quality for up to eight months. It will stay safe to eat indefinitely after that but will work only for blended dips, since the texture will suffer. Before freezing, wash and peel the eggplant. Then, cut it into 1/3-inch slices and plunge it into boiling water with a bit of lemon juice for 4 minutes. Quickly chill the slices in ice water, drain the eggplant and place it in freezer-grade plastic or foil.
Susan Lundman began writing about her love of cooking, ingredient choices, menu planning and healthy eating after working for 20 years on children's issues at a nonprofit organization. She has written about food online professionally for ten years on numerous websites, and has provided family and friends with homemade recipes and stories about culinary adventures. Lundman received her M.A. from Stanford University.